by Christian Smith
When I was four I kicked over a hill of fire ants. If I dream of the memory or just remember the dreams I can no longer say. I know it happened because my mother liked to tell the story.
I was playing behind our apartment building in Mobile, where the power lines climbed the walls through conduits like hooded cobras. Kicked the hill and a thousand ants coated my legs with boiling stings. Looked up and saw printed on the grimy wall a vision of a black-hooded Jesus, protector or punisher I did not know. Mother came outside to my screaming and with soothing cool hands scraped the ants from my legs.
They stung her as bad as they did me.
Now I’ve gone and kicked over another anthill. Me and Bobby tweaked out of our minds. He said it would be an easy score, but the liquor store guy had a pistol. Shot Bobby in the face and I ran. Cops outside cruising the block, just my luck. Tagged one of them and took two bullets like swarming ants burrowing into my leg.
In the alley, bleeding, with the sirens wailing closer. I look up and see the power lines just like that day. Only no hooded Christ and no Mommy’s cool hands to wipe the ants away.